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By Abhay V
Honor reportedly working on a new device lineup with support for Google's services
by Abhay Venkatesh
Back in November last year, Huawei sold its Honor brand to a Chinese consortium owing to the stress created on its supply chain caused by the U.S. trade bans and the firm’s inability to source key components for its phones. The sale would allow the company to not only conserve resources for its own phones but also for Honor’s buyers to develop hardware using parts sourced from the likes of Qualcomm and software from Google.
Now, a new report from Kommersant, a Russian publication, suggests that Honor is working on a new device lineup with support for Google services. The possible addition of Google’s Play Store coupled with the fact that the firm is no longer being owned by Huawei might also result in the devices dropping Huawei’s AppGallery, the publication adds. These phones are expected to make it to the Russian market in the spring, though availability and plans for other regions are currently not known.
The report also adds that the lack of GMS has adversely affected the Honor brand in Russia, citing an earlier report that suggests that the brand held the second position in terms of unit sales in 2019, which was taken over by Xiaomi. The inclusion of Google Mobile Service (GMS) and the now-removed trade blocks for business with the likes of Qualcomm could greatly improve the sales of the devices in Russia and elsewhere.
While it is no surprise that the new owners of the Honor brand expect to begin shipping devices with Google’s services, it will be interesting to see if the company continues bundling Huawei’s AppGallery with the phones. The report speculates that the removal of Huawei’s store might reduce developer efforts for that company. Additionally, it is highly unlikely that Honor’s upcoming flagship, expected to be called the V40, will bring support for Google’s services.
Source: Kommersant via GSMArena
Brazilian government allows Huawei to take part in 5G auction
by Paul Hill
Reuters, citing the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, has said that Brazil is likely to allow Huawei to participate in the 5G auction that’s set to take place in June. The Bolsonaro government of Brazil has been looking for ways to exclude the Chinese company from the country’s networks, following the lead of the United States, but between Trump’s upcoming departure from the White House and the cost of excluding Huawei, Jair Bolsonaro is being forced to backtrack on his plans.
The Brazilian newspaper had cited government and industry sources to back up claims that Brazil will allow Huawei into the 5G network auctions later this year. It said that with China being Brazil’s biggest trade partner and Huawei being more cost-competitive, Bolsonaro has faced resistance to banning the Chinese firm from industry and members of his government including Vice President Hamilton Mourao.
VP Mourao told the newspaper that any company that takes part in the auction will be subject to the country’s data protection laws and must respect Brazil’s sovereignty. One of the arguments put forth by the current U.S. administration is that Huawei has links to the Communist Party of China and therefore data won’t be safe if Huawei is allowed into 5G networks.
While Trump’s departure may have saved Huawei’s prospects in Brazil, it has come too late for the company in other countries like Poland and the United Kingdom which have already moved to ban Huawei from their 5G networks and remove it where it has already been installed.
Source: Estadao (Portuguese) via Reuters
New U.S. executive order bans transactions with eight Chinese apps
by João Carrasqueira
United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week, aiming to ban U.S. transactions with eight Chinese apps and services, according to a report by Reuters. The current administration has a history of imposing or attempting to impose restrictions on Chinese companies, with one recent example being ByteDance's TikTok, which it tried to ban last summer.
Just like before, the executive order cites security issues with these Chinese apps, which could potentially allow China to "track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information". The executive order targets eight apps, including payment services Alipay, QQ Wallet, and WeChat Pay, as well as popular apps such as CamScanner, SHAREit, and WPS Office.
In the hours following the executive order, China has said that it will take the "necessary measures" to protect the rights of its home-grown companies. Kingsoft, the company behind WPS Office, has stated that the order isn't expected to have any significant impact on its business in the short term, but other targeted companies also had no comment.
As with TikTok, there's a 45-day period for the Commerce Department to decide which transactions should be banned under the executive order, but an official has stated that action will be taken before January 20, the day of the inauguration of Joe Biden as President. Biden could choose to revoke the order once taking office, but the transition team has made no comment on the matter.
The planned restrictions on TikTok last year ended up not going through, as courts believed they violate freedom of speech. The administration believes that such an argument wouldn't apply to the apps in this executive order, however.
TrendForce: Huawei to see big smartphone production drop in 2021
by Paul Hill
New data from TrendForce reveals that Huawei could be pushed out of the top six list of smartphone producers in 2021. This development is the result of two things: U.S. restrictions against Huawei and the coronavirus pandemic. Huawei is expected to fall from third position down to seventh with the Chinese manufacturer Transsion gaining sixth place.
While Huawei was hit by two problems last year, the rest of the smartphone market struggled too. The data shows that “a mere” 1.25 billion smartphone units were produced last year, a year-over-year decrease of 11% which is also a new record according to the analyst firm. 2021 will see the firms recover but Huawei is expected to slip as restrictions remain in place and it loses sales from its Honor brand which was recently sold off.
In 2020, Samsung was the largest producer with 263 million units but only held 11% of 5G market share. Apple, which was in second place, has a production volume of 199 million units but had the largest 5G market share with 31%. Huawei came in second place in terms of 5G market share with 30%. In 2021, Apple will be well ahead in the 5G market reaching 35% with OPPO in second place at just 14%. Huawei’s production volume is expected to drop from 170 million units to 45 million units and its 5G market share will fall from 30% to just 8%.
While TrendForce can try its best, its predictions could change dramatically depending on how the year pans out. Joe Biden is set to take over later this month which could see a change in policy against China and Huawei and with regards to the pandemic all sorts could happen; the virus could mutate to become more transmissible causing further lockdowns and there could be vaccine shortages in some countries further hampering the recovery.
By Ather Fawaz
China is cracking down on monopolistic businesses, starting from tech giant Alibaba
by Ather Fawaz
Image via Financial TimesChina has launched an antitrust probe against Alibaba Group (alibaba.com). Regulators will summon the company's Ant Group affiliate to meet in the coming days. The meeting would “guide Ant Group to implement financial supervision, fair competition and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers,” a statement by the People’s Bank of China said on Thursday.
The probe follows from the country's crackdown on monopolistic behavior in its tech space. Draft anti-monopoly rules released last month gave the government sweeping powers to rein in entrepreneurs like Ma whose businesses have enjoyed freedom from strict regulations thus far. People’s Daily, which is the largest newspaper group in the country and the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote that if “monopoly is tolerated, and companies are allowed to expand in a disorderly and barbarian manner, the industry won’t develop in a healthy, and sustainable way”.
Last month, China suspended Ant's planned $37 billion Initial Public Offering (IPO) just two days before trading would commence in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Had it not been for the suspension, Ant's IPO was on course to become the world's largest, surpassing its own historic IPO of $25 billion that it clocked back in September 2014. Following news of the antitrust probe, shares in Alibaba fell nearly 9% in Hong Kong.